Serious online journalistic efforts are springing up more and more frequently as traditional media writers struggle to find new ways to stay in the game. But among the new sites I’ve come across there’s been a tendency towards really sloppy design.
The Faster Times (“edgy” Young Turks who mostly live in Brooklyn) launched in the middle of 2009, and is one of the worst culprits. Horribly photoshopped head shots, spastic spacing, and indecisive typography make this site particularly painful to wander through.
But does that matter? Do hungry readers care what their news/opinion looks like? Or, conversely, do some readers actually prefer the collegiate GeoCities look?
And what can account for this total disregard of basic visual standards (which in a happier paper era would never have been tolerated)? Tight budgets and the Huffington Post. I’ve lost count of how many State of the Media events I’ve been to where the predominant point of reference has been HuffPo. The enthusiasm to duplicate its pageview success unfortunately includes adopting its hodgepodge aesthetic (which thankfully has been iteratively improving).